LV 3DR Photo Drone

Joined
Jul 4, 2018
Messages
234
Reaction score
182
Location
Latvia
Hi to all #3drdronepilots,

I’m already in this forum for a while (since Jul 4, 2018) but haven’t introduced myself.
I`m 36 (and getting older :) ), located in Latvia and bought my 3DR Solo in 2018.

My 1st drone was DJI Spark, but I wasn’t satisfied with no-RAW option and overall image quality. I didn’t wanted to invest in more expensive DJI drones so started to look for alternatives.
As a hobbyist photographer shooting with Sony FF mirrorless camera, I knew what result I want achieve.

So I searched and found a 3DR Solo drone (haven’t heard of it before) and camera to adapt – Ricoh GR (knew that such brand existed, but nothing about this particular camera).

Slowly will add info with images, how I started, what have been done, what are future plans etc.
If interested – welcome to watch


What's d0ne so far:
+ GPS Isolation Plate and 3DR Solo GPS Shield V2,
+ HDMI cable upgrade,
+ DIY camera gimbal (tilt only) + shutter trigger
+ motor berings replaced (ceramic),
+ controler wi-fi card replaced (Mikrotik R11e-2HnD),
+ Master Airscrew Built-in Nut Upgrade Propellers - MR SL 10x4.5 Set x4 Orange
+ 3D printed leg extensions orange
+ power module + 2x Li-ion 9000mAh battery,


What's in progress:
+ compass upgrade
+ brushless 2-axis gimball,

+ Ardocopter Autotune (3DR Solo calibration),

Future plans:
+ FF sensor camera,
+ remote camera setting change + triggerinng


Content:

Part.1 Why 3DR Solo and why Ricoh GR?
Part.2 Problems with mRo GPS chip
Part.3 Gimbal and shutter triggering
Part.4 HDMI cable replacement
Part.5 Bearing replacement
Part.6 Controller Wi-Fi card update
Part.7 Madhacker battery tester
Part.8 Propellers
Part.9 Battery mod
Part.10 Donor drone
Part.11 HDMI cable replacement Nr.2
Part.12 Power module mode + 2x Li-ion 9000mAh battery build
Part.13-1 Brushless 2-axis gimbal (the idea)
Part.13-2 Brushless 2-axis gimbal (controller, motors)
Part.13-3 Brushless 2-axis gimbal (design, v1.0 print, sanding)

to be continued ...
P91102-172125.jpg
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 22, 2017
Messages
293
Reaction score
162
Location
Australia
Website
www.robertpower.com.au
It been great to watch your build progress. Really cool to share ideas with you over the other side of the world and now to see the aerial photo platform we have developed. Like me you are passionate about your photography. You are producing some great images.

Only 35.........I remember when I was 35, I have just turned 51 😁 I got my first solo in December 2016 and joined this site soon after. Have learnt heaps here and have contributed where I can, some very talented people here.
 
  • Like
Reactions: makatanav
Joined
Jul 4, 2018
Messages
234
Reaction score
182
Location
Latvia
Part.1 Why 3DR Solo and why Ricoh GR?

Now I even don’t remember who was first chicken or egg, t.i. 3Dr Solo or Ricoh GR, but I think, I started with camera.
As hobbyist photographer, I knew that will go either 1” or ASP-C sensor way. Searched info www, UAV forums, KAP forums. Different kind of compact cameras, Sony mirrorless, and then Ricoh GR.
APS-C sensor, HDMI port, intervalometer, light - all what’s needed. Ok

Now need a drone, who is possible to carry weight and can provide HDMI video transfer. Then I found 3DR Solo (never had heard of it before). Searched info about it, registered here. Yes, this could be a match. Found out there is a an option to add servo for shutter triggering. Hands down, this is it, even no need for intervalometer.

Started to search for 3DR Solo on eBay Europe. Yes oversees 3DR Solos available for cheepies, here different story. Followed auctions, buy now’s. Then found a good offer and bought My 3DR Solo. Got the Ricoh GR the same way, even faster than 3DR Solo arrived.

3DR Solo Drone:
  • 3DR solo quadcopter with upgraded mRo gps chip
  • Controller which still has plastic cover on
  • 3-axis fully controllable gimbal
  • 3 flight batteries that have been stored correctly and are all working well
  • Many spare propellers
  • Alfa antenna upgrades
  • All standard bits
  • Genuine 3DR solo backpack
IMG_3268.jpg IMG_3269.jpg IMG_3272.jpg IMG_3879.jpg IMG_3880.jpg IMG_3881.jpg

p.s. Sold the gimbal, got some money back
p.s.2. the Ricoh GR looked like just taken of factory conveyor- original screen protector film on, 840 shutter accusations 😮, and even with 64GB Sandisk SD inside :D. Updated firmware to latest and added tempered glass screen protector.

In short about Ricoh GR:
  • 16MP APS-C sensor without anti-aliasing filter (so wery sharp)
  • 18.3mm f/2.8 lens (FF equ. 28mm F2.8) sharp to corners wide open, best corner sharpness at f/4.0, f/5.6,
  • 245 grams with battery, 245 grams (can't beat)
  • HDMI out, intervalometer, min shutter speed option, auto ISO
  • Snap mode infinity – camera set to infinity and no need to prefocus, press shutter till the end and got a picture
to be continued ...
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jul 4, 2018
Messages
234
Reaction score
182
Location
Latvia
Part.2 Problems with mRo GPS chip

The 3DR solo came with mRo GSP chip preinstalled. That was one of the reasons why I choose exactly this specific 3DR Solo (I already had figured out information about early GPS chips and their problems, rev B etc).
Went out in the yard, powered on first time, waited a time and boy, only 7 SATS | 1.4 HDOP. Didn’t expected this, the results needed to be much more positive.
Opened the GPS to cover to check is the rights GPS there, and yes it was there. Tried to connect to PC to check which GPS systems enabled, but never get so far, something wrong.
Contacted mrobotics about my problem. Upcoming and polite company. Even knowing that I have not bought the product directly from them, they opened and RMA case and I sent my problematic GPS chip to them for inspection.

After inspection, got such info:
“The GPS chip had some kind of fragmentation in the firmware, one of our specialized technicians had to completely wipe the GPS programming and re-program it carefully. They use a special software for this that's not available for customers or easy to perform, that's why we ask for customers to send in their GPS in rare cases like this. We tested the GPS on a Solo and it performed pretty well getting 18+ satellites pretty fast.”

While waiting my repaired GPS chip to arrive, ordered 3D printed GPS Isolation Plate and 3DR Solo GPS Shield V2.
In meantime was working on my 1st DIY gimbal for Ricoh GR
When all components arrived, put all together went in the yard to power on again and hoping for better results. And there they were – 21 SATS | 0.5 HDOP

IMG_3907.jpg IMG_3991.jpg IMG_3993.jpg IMG_4050.jpg IMG_4052.jpg IMG_4053.jpg IMG_4224.jpg IMG_4225.jpg IMG_4267.jpg

to be continued ...
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 5, 2020
Messages
12
Reaction score
4
Age
33
Very informative! Thanks for your details! Just asking, if I also have bad GPS signal, do you think I can contact mrobotics and send them my chip for them to fox as you did? I often only get 7-8 GPS signal
 
Joined
Jul 4, 2018
Messages
234
Reaction score
182
Location
Latvia
Very informative! Thanks for your details! Just asking, if I also have bad GPS signal, do you think I can contact mrobotics and send them my chip for them to fox as you did? I often only get 7-8 GPS signal
Sure. They will ask for order information. I had to pay shipping both ways (sending back was expensive for me to Europe). GPS shield also could help if you don’t have any.
 
Joined
Jan 5, 2020
Messages
12
Reaction score
4
Age
33
Sure. They will ask for order information. I had to pay shipping both ways (sending back was expensive for me to Europe). GPS shield also could help if you don’t have any.
Thank you so much! Weak GPS is one of my mai concern, beside home pointer issue. If ever 3dr app has home pointer like DJI or Parrot drones, it would be perfect!
 
Joined
Jul 4, 2018
Messages
234
Reaction score
182
Location
Latvia
Thank you so much! Weak GPS is one of my mai concern, beside home pointer issue. If ever 3dr app has home pointer like DJI or Parrot drones, it would be perfect!
Of course, it also depends where you fly – in cities there can be lot of interference, overcast skies also can decrease these parameters. But if this is everyday everywhere, then something is not OK.
 
Joined
Jul 4, 2018
Messages
234
Reaction score
182
Location
Latvia
Part.3 Gimbal and shutter triggering

Here already can say big thank to @Robpower for help and time provided. Taking all together in the end, we helped each other with ideas, knowledge and DIY to build our gimbals and triggering better.
Almost all info is available under @Robpower thread - Nikon J5 mirrorless camera on 3Dr Solo - ch7 shutter

In short, I have built some five or six gimbals, until got to final one I use now. Experimented with different servomotors, gimbal placements etc.

The curent gimbal is made of 2mm carbon fiber sheet cut with dremel in necessary pieces. Glued together with two-component epoxy glue. Corners strengthened with L type aluminum profile.
For camera tilt using digital servo PDI-2504MG JX (25.65gr). When building, have played with different servos – analog, digital, not all are working with 3DR Solo. Digital are smoother.
By default, the servo travels only 45º, so I added a FLYTRON 180º Servo Expander, which added other 45º, so I can tilt camera in max 90 º. Others are soldering 3.3k resistor to each side of the pot in the servo.

At the beginning for camera triggering I was using another servomotor, which pressed and released shutter button, but in the end to gain weight and space, added Ricoh Remote Shutter cable, also from FLTYTRON (there are also cables available from genteles Limited for different camera brands).

Mounting wise, this gimbal is attached half to the extension board (2mm screws needed) and half to "fixed camera mount". Adding only to "fixed camera mount"≠ premium stiffness, cause, the "fixed camera mount" is thin plastic holding on 3 screws (only my expectation)

To make servos operational pwm inputs need’s to be soldered to 3Dr Solo board - 14pin - PWM6 IO-CH6 for TILT, 19pin - PWM7 IO-CH7 for TRIGGER and enable parameters in Solex/Mission Planer – Setting RC6_Function and RC7_Function to 1 (on OPEN SOLO 4.0.0 servo6_function = 1 for TILT, servo7_function =1 for TRIGGER)

5V power and ground can be soldered either on board or 3DR Solo gimbal conector.

And that’s not all. Actually I struggled a lot till I found thiis out.

Triggering will work only with OpenSolo (not on stock one):
Controller: CH7 on/off improvement: Long hold pause button to turn CH7 option on. Short hold pause to turn CH7 option off. This removes the conflict with the pause function, which still uses the normal single click.
Rewind has been removed. The 3DR Solo app still has the option to turn it on/off, which also never worked right, and they will not do anything. This was a feature 3DR was in the middle of developing when they closed shop.

P91021-211311(1).jpg P91102-132323.jpg P91102-152819.jpg IMG_3999.jpg IMG_4013.jpg P90720-130458.jpg bottom.jpg P91102-173114.jpg P91102-173049.jpg


to be continued ...
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jan 5, 2020
Messages
12
Reaction score
4
Age
33
Excellent! Wish I could do one! Just asking, how did you figure out what part on the board that you have to solder?
 
Joined
Jul 4, 2018
Messages
234
Reaction score
182
Location
Latvia
Part.4 HDMI cable replacement

The default HDMI cable is stiff and I have also red that it caused problems like unnecessary vibrations, so I replaced it with ribbon HDMI cable and reduced some weight

IMG_3997.jpg IMG_3998.jpg

to be continued ...
 
  • Like
Reactions: Robpower
Joined
Jan 22, 2017
Messages
293
Reaction score
162
Location
Australia
Website
www.robertpower.com.au
Part3. Gimbal and shutter triggering

Here already can say big thank to @Robpower for help and time provided. Taking all together in the end, we helped each other with ideas, knowledge and DIY to build our gimbals and triggering better.
Almost all info is available under @Robpower thread - Nikon J5 mirrorless camera on 3Dr Solo - ch7 shutter

In short, I have built some five or six gimbals, until got to final one I use now. Experimented with different servomotors, gimbal placements etc.

The curent gimbal is made of 2mm carbon fiber sheet cut with dremel in necessary pieces. Glued together with two-component epoxy glue. Corners strengthened with L type aluminum profile.
For camera tilt using digital servo PDI-2504MG JX (25.65gr). When building, have played with different servos – analog, digital, not all are working with 3DR Solo. Digital are smoother.
By default, the servo travels only 45º, so I added a FLYTRON 180º Servo Expander, which added other 45º, so I can tilt camera in max 90 º. Others are soldering 3.3k resistor to each side of the pot in the servo.

At the beginning for camera triggering I was using another servomotor, which pressed and released shutter button, but in the end to gain weight and space, added Ricoh Remote Shutter cable, also from FLTYTRON (there are also cables available from genteles Limited for different camera brands).

Mounting wise, this gimbal is attached half to the extension board (2mm screws needed) and half to "fixed camera mount". Adding only to "fixed camera mount"≠ premium stiffness, cause, the "fixed camera mount" is thin plastic holding on 3 screws (only my expectation)

To make servos operational pwm inputs need’s to be soldered to 3Dr Solo board - 14pin - PWM6 IO-CH6 for TILT, 19pin - PWM7 IO-CH7 for TRIGGER and enable parameters in Solex/Mission Planer – Setting RC6_Function and RC7_Function to 1.
5V power and ground can be soldered either on board or 3DR Solo gimbal conector.

And that’s not all. Actually I struggled a lot till I found thiis out.

Triggering will work only with OpenSolo (not on stock one):
Controller: CH7 on/off improvement: Long hold pause button to turn CH7 option on. Short hold pause to turn CH7 option off. This removes the conflict with the pause function, which still uses the normal single click.
Rewind has been removed. The 3DR Solo app still has the option to turn it on/off, which also never worked right, and they will not do anything. This was a feature 3DR was in the middle of developing when they closed shop.

View attachment 10740 View attachment 10741 View attachment 10742 View attachment 10737 View attachment 10738 View attachment 10739 View attachment 10736 View attachment 10743 View attachment 10744


to be continued ...
thanks for the mention mate, its been an interesting/exciting build and the result is a great still photography platform from the 3dr Solo
 
  • Like
Reactions: makatanav
Joined
Jul 4, 2018
Messages
234
Reaction score
182
Location
Latvia
Part.5 Bearing replacement

After first flights of 3DR Solo, I was hearing a strange whistling sound from my 3DR Solo. Opened a thread Weird whistleing sound from Solo and searched info elsewhere and lot of folks suggested that it could be or definitely is a bearing problem and they need to be changed.

I ordered and replaced them, but actually it didn’t resolved the problem 😁 I`m still having that whistling sound I`m already used to, but I`ll drop down info for others.

3DR Solo uses two bearings for each motor – one bigger, on smaller.

Small bearing is an R2-5ZZ or the stainless variant is SR2-5ZZ
R2-5ZZ 1/8x5/16X9/64 3,175x7,938x3,571 mm

Larger bearing is an R2ZZ, the stainless variant is SR2ZZ
R2ZZ 1/8x3/8X5/32 3,175x9,525x3,967 mm

Thera are also ceramic ones (add a 'C' to the end eg R2ZZ-C)

I found and ordered those with ceramic balls inside from ebay.de (expensive, but better):
RCS FR2-5ZZ/C & RCS R2ZZ/C

Motor extraction and disassembly was actually not so hard:
Take of led cover and unscrew 4 screws
There are plastic in three places holding motor on one side (soldering iron to melt the plastic).
One screw on other side to unscrew
The hardest for me was (I don`t actually know how the part is called) to remove the “C-ring”
Take out old bearing - screwdriver through middle axis and gentle knock from each side.
To press in new ones – created simple bearing press
Then in reverse order assemble again – 3 plastic buttons recreate with soldering iron.

IMG_4372.jpg IMG_4375.jpg IMG_4376.jpg IMG_4377.jpg

to be continued ...
 
  • Like
Reactions: bajba and Robpower
Joined
Mar 23, 2017
Messages
3
Reaction score
1
Location
Poland
To make servos operational pwm inputs need’s to be soldered to 3Dr Solo board - 14pin - PWM6 IO-CH6 for TILT, 19pin - PWM7 IO-CH7 for TRIGGER and enable parameters in Solex/Mission Planer – Setting RC6_Function and RC7_Function to 1.
5V power and ground can be soldered either on board or 3DR Solo gimbal conector.

And that’s not all. Actually I struggled a lot till I found thiis out.

Triggering will work only with OpenSolo (not on stock one):
Controller: CH7 on/off improvement: Long hold pause button to turn CH7 option on. Short hold pause to turn CH7 option off. This removes the conflict with the pause function, which still uses the normal single click.
Rewind has been removed. The 3DR Solo app still has the option to turn it on/off, which also never worked right, and they will not do anything. This was a feature 3DR was in the middle of developing when they closed shop.
Nice job @makatanav thank you for sharing. I am going to trigger Sony a6300. Could you tell more about parameters you used after updating your drone to OpenSolo? I think RC7_Function dos not exist any more, dos it?
 
  • Like
Reactions: dougputt
Joined
Feb 6, 2020
Messages
23
Reaction score
11
Age
39
Location
Ventura, California
This is great stuff! I've been into building several quads and hex rigs with my daughter over the last couple years just for fun, but never really got into the photography side of drone flying until recently. She wants to get more into that, and my wife shoots Sony mirrorless cameras, so I'm enjoying your build thread, and getting some ideas for our Solos. :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: makatanav
Joined
Jul 4, 2018
Messages
234
Reaction score
182
Location
Latvia
Nice job @makatanav thank you for sharing. I am going to trigger Sony a6300. Could you tell more about parameters you used after updating your drone to OpenSolo? I think RC7_Function dos not exist any more, dos it?
Thanks. Yes on OPEN SOLO 4.0.0 the parametters are different:
servo6_function = 1 for TILT
servo7_function =1 for TRIGGER

This is great stuff! I've been into building several quads and hex rigs with my daughter over the last couple years just for fun, but never really got into the photography side of drone flying until recently. She wants to get more into that, and my wife shoots Sony mirrorless cameras, so I'm enjoying your build thread, and getting some ideas for our Solos. :)
thanks & your welcome :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Robpower and bajba
Joined
Jul 4, 2018
Messages
234
Reaction score
182
Location
Latvia
Part.6 Controller Wi-Fi card update

As I was not very impressed with 3DR Solo flight distance, and signal strength/reliability, I choose to upgrade controllers Wi-Fi card (already have found info online, that it can be done also for drone itself, but can cause brown outs and it’s not suggested).
Some provided info that exchange only of one card will not help, soma said, that it will. I simply did (but only for controller).

Wi-Fi card Mikrotik R11e-2HnD.
Was it worth? Yes, definitely.
Flown 1000m (remote location) and even no red Wi-Fi signal kicked in (that on stock antennas).

P90219-102054.jpg P90219-102201.jpg P90219-191058.jpg P90219-191103.jpg P90219-191800.jpg P90219-192453.jpg S90324-161516_1500px.jpg

^ Added in 1st post what's d0ne (will add more with Par.7 ... etc), what's in progress & future plans

to be continued ...
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jul 4, 2018
Messages
234
Reaction score
182
Location
Latvia
Part.7 Madhacker battery tester

When bought the drone, it came with three “slightly used” batteries. Performance wise – all three gave different flight times, one was discharging very faster. I numbered the batteries to know which one was performing the best etc.
To get info from batteries about their life and status, ordered Machacker battery tester (3DR Solo Battery diagnostic tool and charging adapter. – Madhacker.org). If I`m remembering correctly, it was sent from Norway, so I received it very quickly.
Then was the moment of truth:

1st battery
DesC: 5200mAh
ActC: 3637mAh
RelChg: 100%
AbsChg: 70%
Date: 2015-12-2
Cycles: 22

2nd battery
DesC: 5200mAh
ActC: 5200mAh
RelChg: 100%
AbsChg: 100%
Date: 2015-8-25
Cycles: 11

3rd battery
DesC: 5200mAh
ActC: 2631mAh
RelChg: 100%
AbsChg: 51%
Date: 2015-7-27
Cycles: 10

On today, I`m already flying with none of them. They’re all gone. Extracted BMS, one battery mod done, for now flying with one battery.

!!! The last batteries were made in 2015, so even if someone suggest to buy new ones, I`ll think twice before buying them.
Semi-easiest way - extract BMS from old ones and do battery mod, more harder way – power module, or wait when Madhacker BMS will be ready (Solo/Ardupilot SMBUS BMS – Madhacker.org)

P90329-174645.jpg P90329-174653.jpg P90922-175325.jpg

to be continued ...
 
  • Like
Reactions: Robpower
Joined
Jul 4, 2018
Messages
234
Reaction score
182
Location
Latvia
Part.8 Propellers

Default OEM props exchanged to Master Airscrew. They tend to be more quiet and battery efficient. Wanted to add green ones, but there were no possibilities to get ones to Latvia, so ordered orange, just like @Robpower 😆
But regarding this post 11" Props on stock Solo motors, ordered APC 11x4.5 which are 1” longer.
Have had one test flight, for now cannot say if there is a difference or not, will check power draw etc. APCs are definitely stiffer.
If they in the end will be better, will need to switch color from orange to gray and reprint some stuff :)

P90112-131624(1).jpg P00207-121034(1).jpg P00207-214225.jpg

to be continued ...
 
Last edited:

New Threads

Members online

Forum statistics

Threads
12,585
Messages
144,760
Members
14,690
Latest member
4th_Dimension